Last December Jose Fernandez He said goodbye to the year with the worst that could happen to him after so many headaches that 2020 gave him, which he says is not worth remembering.
He food deliverymanwho works mostly in Queens and BrooklynHe arrived at his home in Astoria around 4:00 in the afternoon, to have lunch and use the bathroom, because although it is hard to believe, in the restaurants where he picks up food in the Big Apple, they deny that service to the delivery men.
The 35-year-old worker left tied up his blue electric motorcycle, with which he made a living. He put two thick chains and two huge locks on it, and parked it next to his building, but half an hour later, when he went out to continue his work routine, the motorcycle was gone. It had been stolen: the third in less than a year.
“It made me very angry. In a second I was without sustenance and without my work tool. It is very ugly to know that one is working in an honest way, breaking his back, seven days a week, from very early until late at night, taking risks, and that they come to rob one like that ”, he comments with great sadness and Frustration for the Colombian, who commented that he had to go into debt with a colleague to buy another motorcycle two days later. And the debt is not just any cat hair.
“One of those motorcycles is worth $ 1,100, plus the lithium batteries that are worth $ 600, and the locks and chains, which add up to more than $ 100, so the thieves gave me a hit of almost $ 2,000. And here no one says to one: ‘we are going to help you because you are an essential worker’ nor does one see that the police take these complaints seriously, because since they are not vehicles with a license plate or registration, then they say how they are going to be able to search for them, like this you better not waste time reporting, “he adds the “delivery”.
John Rodriguez, who works with a food delivery app in Manhattan, lived a similar story.
The 23-year-old was taking an order to a high floor in a building near Second Avenue, he left his electric bicycle, chained, in front of the place, and when he got out, in less than two minutes, he was gone. It was stolen.
“It didn’t take me long and all I saw was a piece of the cut chain. The building watchman told me that he had seen two guys cut it with huge scissors, and he did nothing. Nobody does anything when they rob us, nobody cares “said the Mexican, adding that some colleagues have told him that in Flushing and Jamaica, thieves have places where they sell everything they steal, and he warned with regret that the police do nothing. “Those bikes are worth over $ 1,800 and when it is stolen, you have no choice but to buy another, because if not, we will run out of work. And make a report? It is not worth it, and less in Manhattan. I’ll never go over there to the precinct again. With the first robbery they did, I went to get help, and they treated me as if I were the thief and not the victim ”.
AND on the method that many thieves would be using to steal electric motorcycles and bicycles, Mario Godines, who was also the victim of the theft of his motorcycle in Long Island City last month, says he had it before his eyes after observing a video of the security cameras where the theft occurred. There, he knew that criminals are “working” in groups, accompanied by cars.
“I saw a car, an Altima, doing double parking when they detected my motorcycle, then they sneaked up to see that no alarm sounded. One guy looked around and then another came along with giant pliers, they broke the chain in broad daylight. Then one of them went back to the car, while the other got on my motorcycle, put it straight and they started on opposite sides. That is how they robbed me, and that is how many colleagues who have stolen them have told me ”, said the worker.
Stories like these are just a couple of the hundreds or thousands that delivery drivers live in the five boroughs each year, in a crime that according to revealed the NYPD itself, is on the rise, and arrests on the decline, as part of common crime and not organized groups.
Between March and September of last year, according to figures from the Uniformada, 4,477 bicycle thefts and 204 arrests were reported, while the figure in the same period of 2019 was 3,507 robberies and 343 arrests.
The NYPD He warned that this consolidated refers to stolen bicycles in general and not only to bicycles stolen from delivery men. On electric motorcycles, which a vast majority of deliveries use, mostly in Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens, and which in the words of one worker are being increasingly “sweet to steal“, he NYPD it did not provide statistics on these thefts.
And in his eagerness to confront this criminal problem in New York, the NYPD announced the implementation of a registration program for bicycles and electric motorcycles (known as scooters in English), which had been started on a pilot basis at the end of last year in some neighborhoods, so that when a theft is reported, officers can have more elements to track cases and eventually recover the vehicles .
“The bike registration program is changing and it will be called ‘Identification Operation’. Legal electric bicycles and scooters are eligible for the registration program, ”said the Sergeant Edward Riley, NYPD spokesperson.
The agent explained that those who are interested in registering their electric motorcycles and bicycles in the program, they can approach the nearest police command, with total confidence, even if they do not speak English, they can request a translation service. Regarding the fear of some immigrant workers for having to provide personal data, Riley stressed that there is nothing to fear, and recalled that the NYPD does not share information with federal authorities or ‘la migra’.
“These workers need not fear going to the NYPD. We want to reaffirm that you are safe, that we know that you live here like the rest of New Yorkers and we know that you are trying to make a living and the NYPD is here to help“, Mentioned the spokesman for NYPD .
To register in the program, those interested must fill out a form with the serial number of the vehicle, their name, their telephone number and the address of their house or restaurant where they work, to have contact in case their bicycles appear and motorcycles.
“I insist that there is nothing to fear. This is basic data that we ask for to make the report identifiable, ”Riley said. “We, as the NYPD, We do NOT ask immigration status. “
The officer also called for theft incidents to be reported as soon as they occur, calling 911, so that there are more possibilities for the police to react and communicate with their patrols. They can also ask community precinct officers or members of crime prevention units for help in sharing information or requesting meetings to discuss concerns.
“If you wait for the hours or days to pass, it becomes much more difficult to trace the stolen vehicle. We want people to know that we will do everything in our power to take evidence, conduct an investigation and if they have data such as the license plate number of a car involved, we can follow up, “said the officer. “When you call, mention an identifiable element of your bicycles
The NYPD He insists that non-English-speaking translators be provided and that Spanish-speaking officials on site will respond.
Ligia Guallpa, director of the organization Labor Justice Project, who is working on a plan to organize New York delivery men to fight for the respect of their rights, confirmed that the theft of electric motorcycles and bicycles is another of the many problems faced by the so-called “delivery drivers”. At the same time he rated the plan NYPD registration as a good start, but as long as there is real interest from the police to help workers and that it does not remain a mere record.
“Some colleagues think it is something positive, and We do believe that it could help to facilitate and identify where the stolen motorcycles and bicycles are, But apart from registering the motorcycles, the important thing is that action is taken, since many of the complaints already registered remain in simple reports and the police do not invest resources in looking for them and we do not know what will happen to those who have already been robbed bicycles, ”said the activist.
Likewise, Guallpa asked the NYPD to work its programs together with organizations like the Labor Justice Project, in order to further educate workers on these options.
“The problem is that it seems that each precinct makes the registration process different and we would like there to be more clarity in the requirements. Education is needed about what this registry program really means and how prevention and prevention can be improved. ensure that the community is not going to be mistrustful and fear, and that things are going to be easier, because there are seals that ask for purchase and payment receipts, and the problem is that many bought their bicycles a long time ago and did not keep the receipt “, Guallpa added.
Finally, the defender of the workers stressed that it is necessary to plan well what data is requested, since she said that in reality, many immigrants they do not want to share your information for fear that it will end up in federal hands.
“You have to rethink what you are going to ask for. Many workers do not want to give that information to the police, because they don’t trust or know where it’s going to end. For example, the personal address should not be requested and could be changed to an address of a worker center so that they contact us here if they find the vehicles. The most important thing now is to build trust ”, concluded the activist.
After buying his new electric motorcycle and learning about the program, the delivery man Jose Fernandez, agreed with several of his “fellow cause” and said he was afraid of having to give personal data to register his vehicle and said he prefers to wait a few months to see results of the registration plan.
“I’m going to do like with the COVID vaccine, I’m going to wait a few months to see what the police really do. If I see that they really help to find the stolen motorcycles and that the companions are safe, I registerBut in the meantime, I’d better buy thicker chains and a noisy alarm so they won’t steal from me again, ”the worker commented.
Points to consider recommended by the NYPD
- The NYPD does not ask for immigration status under any circumstances to make reports or records
- It is good to write down the particular brands that identify your vehicles and the serial numbers
- If you are the victim of theft, call 911 immediately
- If you see the thief of your vehicles, provide a description, and reveal if a weapon was used and in what way he fled the scene
The delivery men in figures
- 100,000 estimated the number of New York delivery drivers, according to the Labor Justice Project
- 50,000 was the number of delivery men estimated in 2015
- 100% has increased the percentage of delivery men, many of them undocumented
How to join the group of distributors of the Labor Justice Project?